Albert takes GvA opener
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Albert takes GvA opener

by Bjorn Haake at 11:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross

Niels Albert continues his cyclocross domination in Belgium, taking the GvA Trophy opener in a solo victory. Second-placed Sven Nys showed improved form and celebrated along the finish line near the citadel of Namur. Zdenek Stybar completed the podium, fighting off the challenge by Klaas Vantornhout.

Albert was quite relieved when he reached the finish line. "This was the hardest course in my career," he told Sporza after the race. The Belgian was visibly struggling with the final uphill running sections and was quite happy when he finally hit the pavement for the last time, zipped up his jersey and crossed the finish line with his arms in the air.

Albert was critical mid-week about the course, but found some more measured words after his win. "This is a beautiful parcours in a very pretty location. But if it's hard for us it is too hard for the beginners and the juniors. However, once a year, this is OK."

In a pre-race interview to Gazet van Antwerpen, the sponsor of this Belgian cyclocross series, Albert was more direct. "It's half lap down followed by half a lap up. Maybe this course is a little too difficult." He also felt the lap was too long to make it interesting for the fans. "After two laps we will all ride by ourselves - is that providing a spectacle?"

Nys' recent mediocre start to the season meant fourth start row for him, but today he was doing better. After four laps he fought his way to second place, with only Albert in front of him.

Nys took all risks to get up to his compatriot, crashing on a descent when his front wheel got stuck in a bit of loose sand on a muddy course. "What a pity, I was in a good rhythm. I don't feel much pain, but I'll have to wait and see."

He entered the last lap 37 seconds behind Albert, but with a comfortable margin over Stybar. Nys admitted the crash didn't change the outcome of the race. "Albert was way too strong. I have no excuse, " he told Sporza. "I rode my own pace and enjoyed the competition."


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